8th November 1947. What’s Your Favourite Flavour?

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‘Why not buy a bag of Doritos to snack whilst watching the ‘Footie’, said the siren voice in Sainsbury’s: the UK has a problem with obesity.(1)

It was different Today in 1947, when it was announced that potatoes were to be rationed to three pounds per person per week: vegetarians were not to receive extra rations.(2)

In 1947 there were over 800 small crisp companies including that of the Leicester butcher Henry Walker, and Edinburgh baker William Alexander, who made crisps after the morning baking, naming his company after the potato variety Golden Wonder, the biggest brand in the 1960’s.(3)

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This company produced the first serious competition to the 1920’s Smith’s Potato Crisp Company of Cricklewood (famous for the blue-coloured salt bag), and also  claimed to have produced the first cheese and onion and ready salted crisps in 1962, though Smith’s insists it produced chicken flavour in 1961. The jury is out on who first produced the many flavours.

Golden Wonder’s fierce competitor was the Pepsico owned Walker’s Crisps, so they extended their range with smoky bacon and chipsticks.  Roast chicken was followed by beef and onion flavour, then by Wotsits (sold to Walkers’ in 2002) and then Ringos.

However Walker’s, who had previously absorbed Smith’s, had by the end of the 20th century, become established with the big supermarkets, and acquired a brand lead over its main competitor, so by 2006 Golden Wonder’s sales accounted for only 4% of total snacks, compared with Walkers at 59%, KP 14% and Proctor and Gamble’s (Pringles) 6%.

In 2004 Golden Wonder suffered a loss of £11m on sales of £88m and in January 2006 they went into administration in a market where Britons eat 10-billion packets equivalent to 100 packets per person a year. (4)

Golden Wonder, whose Corby crisps plant was the biggest in the world in 1964, made mistakes with its ‘no frills’ approach and couldn’t  match Walker’s advertising budget that spent £17m on ‘media support’, more than all the other snacks put together. They were acquired by ‘Tayto’ of Northern Ireland.

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(1) On 21.6.2012.

Large portions was an American invention and taken up by fast-food outlets. It appears that by increasing the size of container and throwing in a few more chips at little cost, more could be charged.

(2) Potato (Continuation of Supply) Order 1947 SR & O 1947 No 2402. 8 November 1947.

(3) Scotland has always been a potato growing country as the climate is said to help to eliminate the viruses that attack the vegetable. Varieties today included: Hermes, Saturna and Lady Rosetta.

(4) Golden Wonder in Administration on 9.1.2006. They were acquired by Northern Ireland ‘Tayto’ on 20.2.2006.

Crisps are packed in inert nitrogen gas to protect them in transit as oxygen would cause the oil to go rancid through oxidation.

Ref: bbc.co.uk/NI./Tayto buys Golden Wonder.

Ref: ‘Crisps a very British Habit’, Jon Henley, Guardian, 1.9.2010.

Ref: Rationing: Spartacus.com

Ref: Potato Rationing (Hansard, 10th November 1947) House of Commons Debate Vol. 444 cc 155-66.

Potato rationing was announced on the previous Saturday, the 8th November by the Ministry of Food.



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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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